20 March 2020
From Monday, 15,000 of our children who would normally be at school will be at home social distancing in our attempts to protect people most vulnerable to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Many of our schools will close for a period of four weeks, so from Monday, we will be stepping up the support to children and their families during these challenging and unprecedented times.
We will open a new Children and Families Hub to provide the right help at the right time for children, young people and families requiring guidance, support and protection.
This is an opportunity to strengthen effective co-ordination of services across Government and the community and voluntary sector.
We will launch what has been our long-term ambition to provide the Children and Families Hub, Right Help at the Right Time.
Our schools have strong relationships with their children and families and during the closure period, schools will continue to be a point of contact for families providing advice, sign posting and requesting additional support when needed through the Children and Families Hub.
We will also launch an online Right Help Right Time directory with information and on-line resources to support parents. Within the next week, we will be offering an advice line for parents and helpline for children.
This development demonstrates the Government’s commitment to put children first and contributes to achieving the four outcomes set out in the Children and Young People’s Plan 2019 – 2023.
Coronavirus is pulling Islanders together. It is deeply heartening to see so much support throughout the community.
The work being carried out across Government is extraordinary as everyone rallies together to help and support each other in this ever-changing situation.
As we work together supporting our most vulnerable groups in the community, I would urge you today to help put our children first by helping to keep them safe.
It is important that parents make the right arrangements for their children to remain in good physical and mental health.
Parents and carers are responsible for keeping their children safe.
But safeguarding is also everyone’s responsibility.
There will be children who will be scared about what they are hearing.
There will be children anxious as their world rapidly changes around them and all their familiar routines start to come to a halt.
There will be children who will be upset that their schools have closed and they can’t play with their friends or go to their after school activities.
There will be some children worried about their parents or grandparents, friends or family becoming sick with the virus.
We need to look after and support our children together.
This is a difficult time for everyone and we know that some families in our community will struggle.
That means that some children could be more at risk.
There will be parents who are anxious about finances, shortages of food and their jobs. Forced isolation will be tough to endure at times.
These factors will create family tensions and will be overwhelming for some.
Families will need our support and we need the public to be our eyes and ears as children and families go into isolation and experience social distancing.
Some children will be more vulnerable during this period and it is imperative that we do all we can together to ensure these children are safe from harm and abuse.
We are here to protect our children in the Island and we need your help.
We are relying on the public to help be our eyes and ears in the community.
To the postman dropping off the post in the morning – be our eyes and ears.
To the kind neighbour dropping off shopping - be our eyes and ears.
We need you – the general public – to be our eyes and ears.
We are bringing forward the Children and Families Hub earlier than was already planned in order to support and safeguard children in our community.
I would like to acknowledge and thank everyone in Children, Young People Education and Skills who have made this happen and all our partners coming together to focus our resources to where they are needed.
Our focus is on children and families receiving the Right Help at the Right Time.
For some, this might mean practical assistant, or having one off advice.
For some children it might mean having home visits.
We know that families want the best for their children and some families will need a bit more help.
We recognise that families throughout the community will need different support.
This is a partnership across Government working with schools and early help providers, Family Nursing and Home Care, police and health colleagues, youth service, parenting support, children with complex needs, short breaks for children with health needs, family and community support and support for those children that need protecting.
We have also produced new guidelines to help parents and families during the school closures.
It is important that you read these guidelines and make the right arrangements for your children to remain in good physical and mental health.
If you’re able to work from home, you must provide appropriate care and supervision while attending to work responsibilities. A child who isn't old enough or who doesn't feel comfortable should never be left home alone. As a guide, the NSPCC advise that children under 12 years old shouldn't be left home alone.
While most children, young people and their families in Jersey have a good quality of life with minimal additional support from public services, there are some who find life more difficult for a variety of reasons.
There is clear evidence that helping families as early as possible and providing support at the right time can reduce the likelihood of problems escalating and the need for more serious interventions.
If we offer the right help at the right time, we will improve long term outcomes for children, young people and their families, enabling them to move on from difficulty and lead happier and healthier lives.
Most children and young people in Jersey live happy, healthy and fulﬁlling lives. However, for a few, there are times like this when additional support can make a difference.
When agencies work together with families, they can significantly improve outcomes for children, young people and families and be much more efficient.
Let’s work together to be those eyes and ears in the community to safeguard our children and families during this turbulent time.
If you are a parent or carer struggling please let us know.
If you know someone who is struggling please let us know.
Please contact the new Children and Family Hub on 519000.
You have the power to help keep our children and young people safe.